Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
– 1 Peter 3:13-16 NASB (emphasis added)
I emphasized the phrase “Lord in your hearts” because it is the most crucial part of this passage from the apostle Peter.
The Law that God gave through Moses in the Old Testament regulated behavior. Do not murder, do not commit adultery, and so on. Jesus took Moses’ words and applied them as well to the heart. Therefore, “Do not murder” became “do not murder even in your heart” which means “Do not harbor hatred in your heart.” Similarly, “Do not commit adultery” became “do not commit adultery even in your heart” which means “do not harbor lust in your heart.” Jesus’ teaching thus covered behavior and motivation. In effect, Moses taught “do the right thing,” whereas Jesus taught “do the right thing for the right reason.”
Because Jesus came to be Lord of human hearts, He came to cleanse the world of evil at the very place evil is rooted: in human hearts. Moses dealt with the “leaves” of evil; Jesus deals with the “roots.”
If your heart is to be protected from the many “infections” that we can contract in this world, you must keep Jesus installed as Lord over it. In other words, make Jesus the Lord of your thought life and, as a result, you will see His lordship in all your life. On the other hand, if you keep your thoughts to yourself and don’t involve Jesus in them, you will see limited blessings in your life.
As for the rest of the passage, note that serving Jesus will not necessarily please everyone else just because it is pleasing Him.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord Jesus, rule my thoughts today. Help me remember Your teaching so I can conform my thoughts to it. As long as I know I have Your approval, I can live with the disapproval of others…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.